We feel that there should have been a better way to close down this lab, one that would have allowed them to have continuous employment until academic jobs are available again in September 2015. Given that this lab was continuing to produce exceptional — indeed revolutionary — research, we fail to understand why closing it had to be done so suddenly.I recommend reading the whole letter. Many in the theory community and beyond, including myself, signed the original letter or added their support in the comments.
Yesterday Harry Shum, Microsoft Executive VP for Technology and Research sent a reply.
No one at Microsoft feels good about the fact that a significant number of our friends and colleagues were laid off. These people contributed to the success of Microsoft over many years. As one can readily imagine, the decisions made about how the cuts were implemented within MSR were extremely complicated and personally painful. We feel with you the sense of loss that has been evoked by the closing of our Silicon Valley lab.Theory Matters has a cover email. More on the CRA Policy Blog.
I'd like to thank the CATCS leadership in putting together the letter which expressed well the thoughts and concerns of the community. The tone of the letter hit the right notes and really made Microsoft research leadership think about the important role the company plays in the larger computer science academic world.